What’s the buzz?
UBC researchers, led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Alison McAfee, investigated drones, male bees whose only role is to mate with a queen. We already know that drones can’t handle heat stress as well as worker bees, and in a new study, researchers tested their response to other stressors including cold and then analyzed the bees’ proteins.
How’d the males stack up?
They found drones are more sensitive to cold and pesticide than female worker bees, with 76 per cent of drones perishing after two hours at a temperature of 4 °C compared with zero worker bees. But the researchers also found something surprising: that drones have more stress-coping proteins than workers.
Not to drone on but…
Perhaps drones ‘hedge their bets’, creating proteins to protect from a wide array of mild stressors, depleting their protein resources left to deal with long-term or extreme stress. With bees contributing an estimated $4 to $5.5 billion a year to the Canadian economy, figuring out how to de-stress drones could be buzzworthy.
Interview language(s): English
Media assets available for use with credit by journalists (Dropbox): www.bit.ly/DroneStress